Archive for the ‘YA Fiction’ Category

NUTMEG-LOGOHave you ever seen the image to the right of this post?

Do you know what the Nutmeg Book Award is?  Every year a select group of students and librarians gather together and read from 60 to 130 books, this number is dependent on for which level they are participating in.

Though I know many adults who do not think of reading youth books — if you are ever looking for some books that speak to an age group; you might consider looking at the teen (grades 7 & 8) or high school (grades 9 to 12) to find what Connecticut tweens and teen say are interesting.  Teen readers read 80 books and had to write short blurbs defending their position about if this book should be a nominee … one of 10 books they are asking the rest of the Connecticut students to read.  High School readers had to read at minimum of 60 books and find 10 that they recommend to others.

Some of the past award winners are very familiar to readers and movie goers — “The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan and “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins — please don’t a book by its movie!

These awards are wonderful to be a part of … if only to use the lists as a short list for gift giving or an idea to find some recommended books.  The Goshen Public Library always purchases two of each Nutmeg Nominee so that many people can have the opportunity to read these amazing books.  You can tell a past nominee because they have the Nutmeg sticker on their spine with the normal library markings.

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Code: a Virals Novel by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs  ISBN 978-1595144126 (read by Cristin Milioti )

When many people see the name Kathy Reichs, they think of “Bones” an adult mystery/suspense series revolving around a forensic specialist, Temperance Brennan.  Tory Brennan is the niece of the Temperance and in every book there is a phone call to the esteemed scientist for help with scientific information and translation.

cover art for Code by Kathy and Brendan Reichs

cover art for Code by Kathy and Brendan Reichs

This was a book that I thought was great because I like the concept of mutations and shape-shifting and extra powers; however my teenage son was less than thrilled about … but it could have been the reader that he really didn’t like.  Also, though the teens acquire the heightened olfactory abilities of the wolf and speed — they actually don’t change.  Their eyes just turn color and really where is the cool factor of yellow eyes?

I like this series because Tory and her friends are just your average every day teens who are smart and live in isolation on this island off the coast of South Carolina.  Their families live on an island owned by the University and their families are all co-workers.  The kids take a ferry to school on the main-land and they need to go by boat anywhere they want to travel.  This series shows a group of youth with initiative and intelligence.  A group of teens that like each other and though they may not always agree, willing to work towards common goals.  They overcome hardships and issues and remain committed to the pack.

I would recommend these books to tweens and teens who like to read about the what might have beens.  The ideas of science and questions of solidarity are important recurring themes.

These books are great and may fall under the category of best read if you are sensitive to voices on audio…

From School Library Journal

Gr 7-9-Months ago, 14-year-old Tory and her friends accidentally acquired supernatural abilities while attempting to solve a decades-old cold-case murder. Now, the group has discovered a geocache, left behind by someone they know only as the “Gamemaster.” The Gamemaster leads the gang on a scavenger hunt peppered with puzzles, codes, and riddles. As the treasures they find become increasingly dangerous, Tory and her friends suspect that one geocache may be a ticking time bomb. The Virals must race against the clock to find it before it detonates and kills innocent people. While this sci-fi/mystery mash-up has some plot inconsistencies and implausible moments, it will appeal to fans of the first two books. The four Virals-Tory, Shelton, Ben, and Hi-are well defined in the course of the story. Though they are all intelligent and protective of one another, their actions are not always prudent or legally sound. The group’s “save the world” mentality thrusts them into plenty of perilous situations, and simply letting law enforcement handle the Gamemaster is never a real consideration. Still, the friends admirably stick together and will stop at nothing to protect the innocent.-Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TXα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Intertwined by Gena Showalter ISBN 978-0373210121


Aden Stone has always had many problems: when he walks too close to a cemetery the dead wake up, he hears voices in his head and he has no family.

Aden has been shuffled from foster homes to juvie his whole life and he is trying desperately to stay out of trouble and pretend to be normal.

Aden has just been shuffled to one more home and his good behavior has been rewarded and he can go to public high school.  He is finally achieving his goals.

At school he meets someone he thought was impossible — a person who quiets the voices in his head.  He is enthralled and wants to spend as much time with her as he can because he is finally calm.  With much hesitation he reveals to her what is happening and so she begins to wonder about her own life and the death of her mother when she was a young girl.

This is a great paranormal story: vampires, werewolves, and speakers of spirits … a great combination and a story I will continue reading.


From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Aden Stone is not your typical 16-year-old. Since birth he has had four souls trapped within him that possess special powers: the ability to time travel, raise the dead, possess a body, and predict the future. As a result, he has spent his whole life in and out of mental institutions diagnosed as a violent schizophrenic. Now able to control the voices in his head, Aden has moved to Crossroads, OK, to live in a halfway house for delinquent boys. His goal in life is to find a means to free these souls and at last be at peace. When he meets Mary Ann Gray, she miraculously acts as a neutralizer, and for the first time in his life, he truly feels normal. The two become fast friends, establishing a sibling-type bond. Little do they realize that when they first met, their connection sent a power surge throughout the world drawing every paranormal creature from fairies to vampires to Crossroads on a quest for power. To complicate matters, Aden becomes romantically involved with a vampire princess and Mary Ann with her werewolf bodyguard. Together the teens must figure out a way to protect themselves, and all of humanity. This fast-paced, action-driven plot has many unexpected twists and turns. Well written, with a unique story line and strong characters, Intertwined is fresh and original at a time when there is an overload of paranormal romances on the market.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

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Seizure (Virals Book 2) by Kathy and Brendan Reichs

cover art from Seizure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

cover art from Seizure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

I think this has become my new favorite youth fiction series.  I really like how the Reichs have developed this troupe of four teenagers and their personalities and dilemmas.

The LIRI Research Center is loosing funding because of the scandal in the first book.  This means that the workers will disperse to wherever the parents can get work, which means the troupe will be disbanded.  The four of them are disheartened and they need a plan to save their pack (which means saving the research center).

So the pack comes together and starts coming up with plots and schemes and eventually settle on one involving a local heroine — Anne Bonny.

There is great adventure: old submerged tunnels, headless skeletons, subterfuge and deception.  The stupid debutante misadventures and relational angst.  Tory gets to call her Great Aunt Temperance (of Bones fame) to ask for a Celtic translation found on the map that they “borrowed”.

But in the end … they triumph over the bad guys (and deceived guy) and are able to save the day and stay together.

This is a great series and I do recommend it to anyone who likes the super-hero mutant power crime solving.

This is just so cool.


“I would highly recommend it … 5 stars” Guardian “If you like Bones, you’ll love Virals” James Patterson “Kathy Reichs gets it dead right with sharp writing and a plot that throws a bunch of very real teens into a deadly adult world … I loved it and I’m sure fans of Alex Rider will love it too” Anthony Horowitz “Mystery … fantasy … science … and heart-stopping action – this book is DANGEROUS. After I read Tory Brennan’s first adventure, I wanted more, more, MORE” R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Book 4) by Rick Riordan

cover art from The House of Hades

cover art from The House of Hades

My children have followed Percy and Annabeth through their many adventures and we just HAD to follow into Hades.  Because the library version was checked out, we got the eBook and read it on my phone out loud to each other during our many car trips and rare evenings home.  It was a great story — the Argo II flying over the mountains with the rest of the team meeting all kinds of monsters, Roman prefects and rogue goddesses and Percy and Annabeth drudging through Hades battling fiery rivers and meeting Bob the janitor.

It was amazing.  It was great.  I didn’t want it to end, but it did anyway.

Later, the audiobook was available at the library and since we loved it so much, I borrowed it.


We couldn’t get through the first track the reader was so horrible.

I much preferred reading the whole book from a 2 inch by 2 inch cell phone screen than listen to that reader.  My thoughts — bring back Jesse Bernstein, even Joshua Swanson was better than this fiasco of a reader.

But the story was great and I am SO willing to read the next one out loud too, unless they get a real reader.  Then I will get the audiobook the first time around!


At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors from both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

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Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker

I seem to be in a rather dark mood when it comes to youth fiction; however, I do choose books that though dark have uplifting endings.

Stella is a young girl who never knew her father, though he named her for he was a jazz musician and his favorite song was about Stella. Her mother is flighty and loves to wander hither and yon and doesn’t know how to care for her young daughter. So Stella ended up in the foster care system and eventually at her great-aunt’s house. Stella is super organized and lives with the “Help from Heloise” home tips.

Angel is another young girl that Great Aunt Louise fosters for she thought that Stella needed a young friend. It turns out that Angel and Stella have nothing in common and they have a hard time getting along, until something unexpected happens.

Louise is found dead in her lounge chair at the end of the last day of school.

This occurrence ties the girls together for they both know that soon they will be getting out of the foster system: Angel’s aunt is applying for custody and Stella is hoping that her mother finally has a steady job and will be able to be a family again. They both need just a few more weeks and they will be more settled. So they decide to pretend that Louise broke her ankle and take care of cleaning the summer rental cabins and processing the registrations themselves. They do very well for most of the summer but events change when the social services people arrive and ask questions that they cannot answer.

This is a great story about family: those born and those made. I highly recommend this for readers of all ages.


“A suspenseful, surprising novel of friendship and family from the creator of the popular Clementine series.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Beautifully evoked, the novel’s Cape Cod setting plays a focal role in this richly layered tale of loss, resiliency, and belonging.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Pennypacker is a Beverly Cleary-caliber girl-whisperer; she can weave a yarn both funny and touching, with all the beloved, timeworn themes at the ready: friendship, family, loyalty, loss and independence.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Pennypacker’s marvelously tactile writing animates Stella’s narration and brings both engaging, resilient, and resourceful characters to life.” (School Library Journal)

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Hex Hall: Book One by Rachel Hawkins ISBN 978-1423121305

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Sophie is a witch.  She learned this three years ago and has been moving ever since.  Her mother is a human but her father is a powerful European Warlock who is rarely around and she has never met.  After her latest pout of attempting to use magic to help an acquaintance with a prom date failed miserably, she was told she had to go to a school for the specially gifted.

Hex Hall is that school full of fairies, witches, ghosts, and her room-mate, the solitary vampire. Sophie’s only friend is the vampire that no one likes and who everyone thinks killed a student.  Sophie has many issues with teachers and students.  She is trying to learn to work with her gifts and the only one who can really help her is a ghost that takes her out of the school at night to train her.  She has a crush on a boy who is dating one of the popular witches and basically has a pretty rotten life.

Though somehow she learns what she needs to do by the end of the book and overcomes the bad person.  Though we also know that she will have some struggles ahead because of who she is and who her father is … a powerful influence in the whole magical world!

From School Library Journal

Gr 8-10-Sophie Mercer doesn’t seem too different from your average 15-year-old-except that she’s a witch, and not a very good one at that. A botched prom night spell lands her in Hex Hall, a reform school for witches, fairies, and shapeshifters located in an isolated part of Georgia that’s right out of a Gothic horror novel. Before the end of her first day of school, Sophie has a crush on Archer, the cutest boy on campus, meets her roommate, Jenna, who’s a vampire and an outcast among the students, and makes enemies of the three queen bees. Soon Sophie is deeply involved in a campus mystery-who’s responsible for the death of Jenna’s old roommate and several nearly fatal attacks on this year’s students? Is anyone safe at Hex Hall? Since Harry Potter, there have been a seemingly endless stream of children’s and YA novels set at schools for supernatural kids and teens, but Rachel Hawkins’s novel (Hyperion, 2012) stands out by gently poking fun at the tropes of the genre, with a manga-loving vampire who decorates her dorm room in hot pink, for example, and Lord Byron, a vampire, cast as the school’s English teacher. Cris Dukehart perfectly captures the sarcastic sense of humor of the narrator and does a credible job voicing the other characters, including the different accents required for the headmistress, the other teens, and a British ghost. First in a trilogy, this audiobook would be an excellent addition to school or public library collections.-Margo Tanenbaum, Rancho Cucamonga Public Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Flukes (Volume 1) by Nichole Chase

FlukesMeena was found by her parents next to her dead mother in the water next to their island home.  Her parents ran a marine animal sanctuary and adopted her (and the protective dolphin) and kept her identity secret for her whole life.  Meena had one friend who knew her story and unfortunately she was going away to college — Meena was trying to put up a strong front so her friend wouldn’t feel bad about leaving but when you are a mermaid … only so many people can know your story.

Meena and her parents are trying to clean up the sanctuary so they can attract cruise line contracts.  If the can get a cruise line to come regularly to visit then they know that their important work with the animals can continue.  So they need people to help them paint and put in new walkways and all the cosmetic stuff.  The people they can afford are people in need of community service and there in lies the story.

Enter Blake — a very smart but tough son of the local business entrepreneur / millionaire.  For some reason he has ended up needing to do community service for a crime he won’t talk about.  He is very astute with computers and when some of the workers are looking at Meena in inappropriate ways — all of her sudden her father is having Blake and Meena work a lot together.

The more time they spend together the more time they want to spend together — they feel somehow drawn together.  One night when they go out to dinner — they meet a mysterious couple who seems to know Meena and she is utterly flummoxed.  Blake helps the sanctuary create a new sign and logo and ultimately finds out her secret and seems willing to keep her secret and become full time staff at the sanctuary … after huge dramatic scenes that I can’t reveal at this time.  This is a great story — well worth reading.

Book Description

Publication Date: October 8, 2012
Meena has a secret guarded closely by her family—a secret as dangerous as the sea and buried just as deep. When court-appointed community-service workers are assigned to Flukes, the family-owned animal sanctuary, everyone is on high alert. It doesn’t help that Meena finds herself attracted to sexy-as-sin Blake Weathering, one of the new workers. If he wasn’t so distracting, she might be able to land Flukes a much-needed cruise-line contract. Blake Weathering, the first in his family to attend public school, has developed a tough image. Unfortunately, it lands him in trouble. Now banned from his high school graduation ceremony, getting his diploma is dependent upon a community-service gig cleaning up fish crap. No diploma, no trust fund fortune—and no way to escape his overbearing father. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a mysterious girl with teal eyes who pulls at his heartstrings. When Blake discovers Meena’s secret, they are both thrown into a desperate search for information about her past. Two worlds pull them in opposite directions, and they will have to fight to hold on to all that really matters.

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My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick ISBN 978-0803736993

My Life Next DoorSamantha Reed is the perfect student with the perfect summer jobs and the mostly perfect family.  Her mother is divorced but she and her sister are always dressed well for the political pictures and her class-work is impeccable.  Yet ever since she can remember — she has sat on the roof outside her bedroom window and watched the family next door — they shout, laugh and seem to have fun.  Something that she lacks.  Her mother tells her to avoid “those Garretts” for they are the kind of family that doesn’t mow their lawn and all those children!

Until one day when one of the Garretts climb up the trellis to speak with her.  Jase is one of the older Garretts and he has been watching her watch them.  This friendship seems strange at first — he is one of many and she has never watched children.  She is from the country club and he helps his father at the hardware store.  But somehow she finds a place and loves the Garrett home, though messy and crowded far more than the immaculate museum she calls home.

Samantha has a friend and her twin brother which she has grown up with and they provided great contrast to Samantha and Jase.  Life is going well until one fateful night when Samantha’s mother and her political adviser make a decision that few could live with.

This is a great story about young love and hard decisions.  I thought it was a great story and one I heartily recommend.

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Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sara Rees Brennan ISBN  978-0062089649

Team HumanI liked this book.  I did recommend it to my son for he is in love with zombies and this book does a great job of explaining where zombies come from (and it isn’t the cabbage patch!).  Is it my favorite book ever? No.  Will I read the next one in the series?  Yes, definitely yes!  Am I in a quandary about the whole 3 star or 4 star rating yes and I may very well change my mind by the time I finish posting this.

New Whitby is designed as a vampire community: special tinted windows so vampires can be out during the day (if they wear protective suits) and there is a vampire part of town and a human part of town.  They have vampire police and human police and a citizen of New Whitby can live a very long time without ever meeting vampire.  Mel and Cathy are going to school in New Whitby, Maine when a new student joins the ranks.  A vampire wants to bring his unique perspective to the student body and Mel’s friend Cathy is enamored.

So Mel is trying to stop the relationship between Cathy and her new beau, trying to figure out what she thinks of the beau’s human “nephew”, and also helping her friend find her father who went missing weeks ago … possibly to run off with a patient of his though no one can really believe that he would do such a thing.

It is a good book with lots of great humor.  If you are into vampires and zombies … pick this book up!

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